Take Better Photos on Vacation

We all want a perfect photo to remember our vacation. Follow these tips for taking a great travel photo and make your memories last a lifetime.

1. Pay attention to the light. According to most photographers, the light is best when the sun is low in the sky. This means try to capture your photos in the first hour or so after the sun rises and the last hour or so before it sets. If you can’t take your photos during that time, don’t worry, you can still get a great photo. Just make sure the light is not directly behind your subject.

2. Communicate. If you’re taking a picture of a person you don’t know, ask for their permission first – especially if you’re in a foreign country. It can also help to get a sense of the person and capture their spirit in your photo.

3. Take in your scenery. Before you start snapping away, take a step back and get a sense for the scenery around you. It will help you get a sense of your surroundings and find the best shot.

4. Go for bright colors. Our eyes are naturally drawn to bright colors, so if the sky is especially bright or the grass is greener than usual, make sure to include that in your photo.

5. Angle the camera down. When taking a picture of people, it’s important that it’s a flattering picture. This especially rings true for selfies. Hold your phone at a 45 degree angle and snap away!

With these tips, you’ll be taking photos like a pro in no time! We want to see your favorite travel photo! Post it on our Facebook page or tweet it. We can’t wait to see your vacation photos!

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8 Amazing Travel Photos

It’s Wednesday, and that means we’re all halfway to Friday! To get you through the week and provide some inspiration for your next vacation, we’ve got some travel photos that are sure to help.

1. Queenstown, New Zealand2. Northern Lights in Alaska
3. St. Petersburg, Russia

4. Essaouira, Morocco

5. Oia village, Greece

6. Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

7. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

8. South Africa

Now that you’ve been inspired, it’s time to book your next vacation! Don’t forget to include travel insurance.

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Valentine’s Day Getaways

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Upgrade from the typical box of chocolates and red roses to a romantic getaway for you and your loved one.

Whether you enjoy getting lost in a big city or the great outdoors, there’s a place for you and yours to escape for the weekend. Sweep your loved one off their feet with a surprise vacation to one of these domestic destinations:

1. Napa Valley, California

Wine aficionados and beginners alike will appreciate California’s wine country. With picturesque views, relaxing resorts and delicious wines, Valentine’s Day travelers will not be disappointed. Stay at Bardesseno for a truly luxurious getaway.

2. New York City, New York

A trip to the Big Apple can be exciting for Valentine’s Day. You and yours can ice skate at Rockefeller Center, take a carriage ride through Central Park or visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the holiday.

3. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is a favorite romantic weekend destination for Easterners. They flock to the city outside of Boston for its laid-back atmosphere and fresh seafood. Find out what the East Coast is buzzing about by making a weekend trip to Cape Cod.

4. Sedona, Arizona

If you travel just north of Phoenix, you’ll see the Red Rocks of Sedona. The city is home to some world-class resorts such as L’Auberge and Amara. This location is perfect if you want to kick back, relax and enjoy the company of your loved one.

5. Chicago, Illinois

This Midwest city offers great food and exciting activities. During the week of February 11, the city will celebrate Chicago Theatre Week. More than 100 productions featuring the city’s greatest talent will be showed at participating theaters. This year, area hotels will be offering a Chicago Theatre Week package that includes a hotel room and pair of tickets to a production.

Tell us – which of these sound like the perfect getaway for you and your loved one? Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing about your travel plans!

And don’t forget … to make sure your vacation is stress-free, add travel insurance to your plans. The travel insurance will protect you against illness, flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage and much more.

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8 Travel Trends Predicted for 2014

2014 is here! Although the countdown to midnight is behind us, we’re counting down the top 8 travel trends for the new year.

1. Domestic flight prices will drop (insert cheering here!). According to the American Express Global Business Travel Forecast 2014, “North American airfares are expected to decline in 2014 as a result of heightened competition from low cost carriers, challenging unemployment levels and corporate travel policies becoming more stringent in regard to business class travel.” Stable oil prices will also help keep costs down. Don’t hold your breath though. The pending consolidation of major U.S. airlines may offset these declines.

2. Brazil’s World Cup will cause a buzz with travelers. According to Brazil’s tourist board, the country is expecting approximately 10 million visitors for the World Cup – more than twice their normal amount of visitors. Why will this sporting event draw so many visitors? Soccer is growing in popularity in the United States and this World Cup will be the first global soccer championship held in South America in almost 40 years.

3. Multi-generational travel will grow. The family groups that started the trend have impressed their remaining kin with their Facebook postings and now everyone wants to join in the party. Watch for family reunions to reach upward toward 100 in the coming year; just be sure you’re booking every member of the clan, grab the whole piece of that pie.

4. Fewer European cruises will be available. According to Fodor’s, European ports will be much sleepier as soon as the summer season of 2014. Carnival, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Regent Seven Seas have either reduced their number of ships or pulled out of Europe all together. Fodor’s sites dwindling passengers rates as the reason cruise lines made the tough decision.

5. Travelers will share even more on social media. While this trend probably doesn’t surprise you, more travelers are turning to sites like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to not only plan their vacations, but to share their adventures and get tips from other travelers.

6. Free Wi-Fi will be more readily available. In 2013, you saw Wi-Fi offered in several hotels and airplanes. That number will continue to grow this year, with more airports, hotels and airlines offering free Wi-Fi to their customers.

7. Vacation rental homes will compete with traditional hotels. Sites like airbnb and VRBO offer travelers the opportunity to stay in spare rooms, apartments or even rent an entire home. This option can often save you money and offers the comforts of your own home.

8. Airlines in China and Singapore will have the largest price increases. According to Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s 2014 Travel Price Forecast, Asia Pacific carriers will continue to align with the three global alliances (EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia and SriLankan Airlines) in the new year, causing prices to increase.

It’s your turn to tell us – what are your travel-related predictions for 2014? Leave a comment below, share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing your predictions and seeing if they come true!

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Destinations for Solo Travelers

Ireland: Explore miles of rolling green hills, dramatic coastal cliffs, and mingle with the friendly locals and enjoy a lively pub culture while touring through Dublin and the Irish countryside. Travelers can take it easy while hopping from one pub and bed & breakfast to another, or rent a car and enjoy a tranquil coastal drive. The country’s rich history and rural charm — and of course, beautiful historic castles and churches — will put you in a relaxed frame of mind.

Costa Rica: With some of the highest national rankings for happiness and safety in the world, Costa Rica is the perfect setting for a peaceful getaway that combines adventure travel and relaxation. If you’re looking for relaxation, you’ll have plenty of beaches to choose from – the country has dozens of Pacific beaches.

Stockholm, Sweden: Although Stockholm is definitely on the pricier side, the Swedish capital is one of the best cities in Europe for solo travelers. The city is safe and friendly for travelers who are looking to explore a European city. Also, if you get lost, most Swedes speak English and will be happy to help you find your way.

New Zealand: If you’re looking to really get away, experience a new culture, and tour through some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the world, plan a trip trekking across New Zealand. Like the other destinations on this list, New Zealand people are really friendly and willing to help visitors to their country.

Now it’s your turn to tell us. Where would you like to travel solo? No matter where you decide to go, make sure travel insurance is part of your vacation plans. With medical coverage, flight delay coverage, lost luggage coverage and much more, it can make a difference in your vacation.

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How to Avoid Jet Lag While Traveling

Jet lag can put a real damper on your vacation. Well-seasoned travelers swear by a variety of practices to combat this common issue. We asked our travelers for their most effective ways to beat jet lag, and you answered with some great tips (thank you!). Read on to find out the best ways to avoid jet lag and be sure to share your tip in a comment below!

“Adjust your sleep schedule a week before the trip,” Betty B. says. “If it’s possible, try to become acclimated to your new time zone before you arrive, and you’ll be able to start your vacation with a running start!” Betty’s on to something here! Research has shown it takes a day for each time zone traveled for a person’s body clock to catch up to the local time, so if you adjust your sleeping times, it can help shorten the adjustment period.

“If you can’t sleep at night when you arrive, try taking a melatonin supplement,” shares Kathie C. Melatonin supplements are sometimes used to treat jet lag or insomnia. However, it’s important to note, that you should consult a doctor before taking any medication, especially ones that affect someone’s ability to drive or operate heavy machinery like melatonin.

“Try to schedule your flight to depart late at night,” advises Michael M. “That way, you can sleep overnight on the plane and get moving once you arrive at your destination.” Michael’s theory is proven useful! Not only does being exposed to light help convince your body it’s time to get going, but getting a full-night’s sleep can also help keep grogginess at bay.

Do you have a tip to beat jet lag? Share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear more great tips from our travelers!

How to Avoid Theft While Traveling

Europe is a very safe country when it comes to violent crimes, however theft is an unfortunate reality for travelers. Thieves tend to target American tourists when it comes to pickpocketing and purse snatching. However, most of these instances are avoidable if you follow these tips:

  1. Don’t bring along your valuables. You’ve heard it before, but leave your valuables at home when traveling. If you bring expensive equipment with you on vacation, like a laptop, keep them in a hotel safe when you’re out for the day.
  2. Don’t carry a backpack. Thieves can easily unzip or even worse, cut the bottom your backpack without your knowledge on a crowded metro. Instead, carry a cross-body bag underneath your jacket or wear a money belt.  If you must carry a backpack, wear it on the front of your body. You may look silly, but it will keep thieves from unzipping your backpack without your knowledge.
  3. Blend in. Avoid wearing anything that screams, “I’m a tourist!”. This includes your newly purchased “I love London” t-shirt, white athletic shoes and baseball caps. These items will most likely attract thieves as they are known to target Americans.
  4. Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowds. Most thieves use a distraction or create commotion of some kind in order to distract you. If you stay vigilant and trust your instincts, it can save you from being a victim of theft.
  5. Get travel insurance. Sometimes theft is unavoidable. If your items are stolen, travel insurance can provide protection where your homeowner’s policy falls short. To find the plan that’s right for you, visit travelsafe.com or call us at 888-885-7233.

What your best tips are for staying safe while abroad? Leave your tips in a comment below, write on our Facebook wall or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Destinations for Your Bucket List

We all have that list. That list of vacation destinations we want to visit. That list that you day dream about on Mondays. Well we’ve got destinations you should add to your travel bucket list.

Fiji is first up. This island country is located about 1,100 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. It makes our list because hearing the name Fiji alone makes you think of exotic beaches and clear, blue water. And if you needed more reason to visit, there is also a number of activities to please a variety of travelers.

New Zealand is next. It goes beyond saying when you see the photo below, but the scenery is spectacular. Add in the air fresh, the delicious food friendly people and you’ve got a dream vacation. No matter what your taste or budget, there is a wide variety of accommodations, too.

Greenland is another great destination too add to your travel bucket list if you thirst for adventure. Diving, climbing, mountaineering and ice fishing are just a few of the activities available in located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Because of its very high latitude, Greenland has an arctic to subarctic climate with cool summers and very cold winters, so hot springs are also a great tourist attraction.

India is last but certainly not least. In addition to picturesque views and historical sites, India boasts music that ranges over various traditions and regional styles. Between the the historical and cultural attractions, India makes for a great addition to any travel bucket list.

We want to hear from you. What are the travel destinations on your bucket list? Leave a comment below, share photos on our Facebook page or Tweet us.

Top 5 Labor Day Weekend Events

Labor Day Weekend is here! If you’re still looking for activities to fill your holiday weekend, we’ve got you covered. From hot air balloons festivals to historical walking tours, here are five events that will keep you busy this holiday weekend.

  1. Washington D.C.: On Sunday, Sept. 1, enjoy a free concert by the National Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. local time. The National Symphony Orchestra performs a free Labor Day Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol each year, the Sunday before Labor Day. This year’s theme is Americana with works by John Williams, Mark Isham and other composers with the Wild West as the theme.
  2. Pine Mountain, Georgia: On Sunday, Sept. 1, the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival will fill the skies in Pine Mountain. If the Hot Air Balloon Festival doesn’t do it for you, there’s also a classic car show, disc dog demonstrations, a pyrotechnic skydiving demonstration, and a 5K Race event. See the entire schedule of events here.

  3. Kansas City, Missouri: From Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, Kansas City celebrates Irish Fest. Irish music will be played on seven stages, and there are also workshops, exhibits and food throughout the festival. This year you’ll also be able to visit the Tourism Ireland Virtual Café, where you’ll be able to chat directly with someone in Ireland.
  4. New York City: Spend Monday, Sept. 2, getting some exercise and education at the same time. At the Labor Day Historical Walking Tour, you’ll learn about immigrant and labor history as you explore downtown NYC.
  5. San Fransisco: On Monday, Sept. 2, the Golden Gate Park Band will present a concert in Golden Gate Park. The concert will begin at 1:00pm. Special Labor Day Concert with great American and Patriotic music featuring Hall Goff, Trombone soloist along with music by Sousa, Jenkins, Victor Herbert and more!

Share your suggestion for a Labor Day Weekend activity by leaving a comment below, writing on our Facebook page or Tweeting us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Travelettes Inspires Women to Travel

Unforgettable summer nights in Berlin, great bars in Paris or surfing in Costa Rica. These are just a few of the adventures highlighted on the online magazine, Travelettes. Founded by Katja Hentschel, the magazine sets out to inspire a new generation of female globetrotters.

“Backpacking in heels” is their motto and that is just what Hentschel did for one year. After her year of backpacking in heels was complete, she founded Travelettes and shares her adventures there. Whether it is “glamping” (read: glamorous camping) or devouring hot soup at a Thai roadside kitchen, she has a lot to share.

In addition to Hentschel, there are 10 Travelettes from all around the world contributing to the blog, sharing the best hotels, cool things to do, and not to be missed adventures.

Hentschel’s advice for other women who want to see the world?

“Be active, be proactive, go traveling and go see the world. Because I find it’s such a huge part of becoming who you are.”

Our advice for woman who want to see the world? Take advantage of resources like Travelettes, combine that with the knowledge of your travel agent and make sure to protect yourself with travel insurance. If your luggage is lost, you come down with the flu, you have to travel home for a medical emergency, your flight is delayed or you just want to cancel your vacation, travel insurance can help.

If you have questions about an upcoming trip and how travel insurance can protect you against the unknown, leave a comment below or call us at 888-885-7233. We look forward to hearing from you!